• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Macedonia!

    Macedonia: Traditional architecture. Go Now!

    Macedonia
    Macedonia is a country still finding its unique identity, but its architecture is already one of a kind. Explore Macedonia!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    Netherlands
    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Austria!

    Austria: Belvedere Palace. Go Now!

    Austria
    Belvedere Palace (pictured) is just one of many palaces found in Vienna. The capital is a good start to Austria, which also features the Alps, the Lakes District, and incredible history & food. Go Now!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

History of Slovakia

After being home to the Huns and other Asiatic people, the Slavs arrived in present-day Slovakia in the 400-600s.

The people converted to Christianity in the 800s and Moravia unified the people under an organized rule as it expanded to control over much of modern-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other neighboring areas. This kingdom didn't last long and was greatly weakened within a century. In the 900s the Hungarians took control over much of the region and held control over modern-day Slovakia until 1918.

Under Hungarian and Austria-Hungarian rule the area was still overrun and attacked by outside parties; the first of these groups was the Mongols in 1241, then in the 1500s the Turks. The Turks remained in Slovakia until the 1600s and, as a far outpost of the ruling government, Slovakia built castles and remained fairly rural and independent during this time. The 1700s and 1800s remained much of the same as the past under Hungarian rule, but primarily independent.

After World War I, in which the Austria-Hungarian Empire lost, Czechoslovakia (a union of modern-day Czech Republic and Slovakia) was formed in 1918. The country began falling apart in 1938 as ethnic minority groups began seeking independence. As Nazi German power rose, the Sudetenlands (in Czech Republic) were taken by the Germans without much fight as Czechoslovakia united with the Nazis to prevent further violence. Slovakia was also home to a large number of Jews at this time and the Germans killed these people, forever altering the ethnic makeup of Slovakia.

After World War II Czechoslovakia elected the communist party to power with little influence from the Soviet Union, although once elected, the communists were closely aligned with and controlled by the Soviets. Under Soviet rule, Czechoslovakia faced both industrialization and rationing, as they were forced to remain at odds with the world to the west. This pressure built until 1968 when the Czech's protested (called Prague Spring), but they were quickly put down.

In 1989 Czechoslovakia gained independence and the two regions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia decided to separate, creating a peaceful Velvet Revolution in 1993.

Since this time both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been close allies as each has developed at different paces and in different industries. In 2004 both the Czech Republic and Slovakia joined the European Union (EU) and in 2009 Slovakia adopted the Euro.

This page was last updated: March, 2013